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Keys to 3-Game Homestand

By Mark Kern and Matt Rochinski
February 9, 2012

Tyrus Thomas vs. Luol Deng

Thomas, a former Bulls player, will play the role of trying to shut down the Bulls second-leading scorer in Luol Deng, who is averaging 16.0 points and 7.3 rebounds. On the season, the Bulls are 19-3 with Deng in the lineup, compared to only 3-3 without him… Deng is also known as a very good defender, but Thomas has stepped up his game the last seven contests, averaging 8.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks – all ahead of his season averages… Thomas will need take Deng into the post on offense and make sure the he contests every shot on defense to make things difficult for Deng. As great as Derrick Rose is, when Deng is on his game, the Bulls become even tougher to beat.

Kemba Walker vs. Chris Paul
Walker, who was recently voted to play in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge on All-Star Weekend, will have his hands full as he matches up against the All-Star Paul... Walker has been in double-figures scoring in 11 of his last 14 games and has averaged 14.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists in eight games as the starting point guard since D.J. Augustin went down with a toe injury. He is continuing to emerge as a floor leader and will be going up against perhaps the best in the league in CP3… Paul, in his first season playing alongside Blake Griffin, is averaging 18.4 points and 9.1 assists. Joining the Clippers has helped make them a legitimate contender in the Western Conference… Kemba will need a strong showing offensively and make Paul work hard for everything if Charlotte is going to be able to slow down the Clippers offense.

Reggie Williams vs. Lou Williams
Since his return from injury, Reggie Williams is averaging 12.5 points and is coming of back-to-back 21-point games at the Suns and the Celtics. His ability to stretch the defense on the perimeter has allowed Walker to attack the paint and create more for his teammates…. Despite being the sixth man for the 76ers, Lou Williams leads the team, averaging 15.7 points. He teams up with Thaddeus Young on one of the best benches in the league and fits the 76ers system very well. Williams is a high-volume shooter, meaning that he will take a lot of shots and sometimes force it a little bit. However, when is on his game, he can create a lot of problems for opposing teams.

In the past two games, the Bobcats have had an opportunity to win entering the fourth quarter, only to see things slip away when they’ve needed big baskets. With three starters from Opening Night – D.J. Augustin (toe), Gerald Henderson (hamstring) and Corey Maggette (hamstring) – all on the bench with their respective injuries on the four-game road trip, Charlotte appeared to wear down entering the final frame of the last two contests. The starters have averaged 32.9 minutes the last two times out, with bench options limited while others have stepped into starting roles… The Bobcats also need to take care of the ball on offense, an area that they have been much better in as of late. With games coming up against the Bulls, Clippers and 76ers, limiting turnovers are a must as all of those teams can get out and score in a hurry.

Point guard Derrick Rose was the NBA’s MVP last season and is playing at an even better pace for the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls have one of the stingiest defenses in the league, as they allow the third fewest points in the league at 87.7 points, trailing only Philadelphia (87.2), and Boston (86.6). Much like the Boston game, the Bobcats are going to have to play strong defense if they want to pull the upset against the Bulls. They are equally as efficient on the offensive end, as they shoot 46.6 percent from the field, which ranks fourth in the league.

SCOUTING THE CLIPPERS (15-8 as of 2/9)
With the Clippers, you hear all about Paul and Griffin, and rightfully so. The duo has been outstanding this season, but their other players have helped them emerge as contenders in the Western Conference. Guys like DeAndre Jordan and Caron Butler have emerged as great role players that are capable of having big games at any time. The Clippers were dealt a huge blow when guard Chauncey Billups tore his Achilles this week and will miss the rest of the season. This puts more importance on the play of Mo Williams. Williams is averaging 14.5 points and 3.8 assists and has been huge off the bench for the Clippers. If Williams catches fire from the 3-point line, the Clippers become nearly impossible to stop.

SCOUTING THE 76ERS (18-8 as of 2/9)
In the era of guys averaging 30 points a game, the 76ers are different in the regard that they have a more balanced offensive attack. The 76ers have eight different players averaging over nine points, led by Williams. The leader of this team is the multi-talented Andre Iguodala, who averages 13.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists. He is also great on the defensive end as he gets matched up against the best scorer on the other team. The 76ers are the perfect example of “team basketball,” as they do everything to make sure they win the game, but do not care who scores the points. This makes them tough to guard because you never know who is about ready to score.

All three games are at Time Warner Cable Arena® in this homestand. The Bobcats tipoff at 7 p.m. on Friday night against the Bulls. They will be back in action, again at 7 p.m. on Saturday night as they take on the Clippers. The Bobcats will have Sunday off before returning to the court Monday night at 7 p.m. to take on the 76ers. Catch all the action on SportSouth, listen to us on WFNZ and join us for the live chat on

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